Windows 8 freezing up

Started Apr 25, 2013 | Discussions
MikeFromMesa
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Windows 8 freezing up
Apr 25, 2013

I know that a Windows system "freezing" is not exactly headline news, but the symptoms of this problem seems different from those of any other system I have heard about. Basically what happens is this:

First, the system "freezes". Apps go pale, the cursor turns into a rotating circle and it looks as though the system will need to be rebooted. Sometimes I get a notice that Windows itself is not responding (which puzzles me somewhat - if Windows is not responding how does it display the message???).

If I wait for the system to respond, it finally does. After a period varying from about 2 minutes up to 5 or 6 minutes Windows suddenly starts working again as though it never stopped. I never get any indication what the problem was, why the problem occurred or how to prevent it in the future. I have been assuming that somewhere along the line I picked up some malware, but I always use anti-virus software and that software (Norton) can find nothing wrong on my system. I have also scanned my system with Kaspersky and it can find nothing in particular wrong.

In addition there does not seem to be a pattern. That is, there is no single app that I am using that has caused this problem. Sometimes it is LR4, sometimes Open Office, sometimes I am browsing on  the dpReview site. No consistency.

Before I rebuild my system I thought I would post this question to see if anyone has any insight into this particular problem. I have had systems "freeze" on me before but I am not used to having the system respond after 2-6 minutes. Before, when my system "froze", it stayed frozen.

My system is a Dell XPS-15 with Windows 8, up to date with fixes, running a 1 TB drive (in which less than 200 GB is in use), an i7 chip and I am not running any strange software. Most of what I have on the system are photo editing apps and digital photos.

Any ideas? Thanks in advance.

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Bouldergramp
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Re: Windows 8 freezing up
In reply to MikeFromMesa, Apr 25, 2013

I would look in the Event Viewer if Windows 8 has one.

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acdtech
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Re: Windows 8 freezing up
In reply to MikeFromMesa, Apr 26, 2013

Try the manufacturer's web site for your video card and see if they have updated video drivers for Windows 8.

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Michael Firstlight
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Re: Windows 8 freezing up
In reply to Bouldergramp, Apr 26, 2013

Ditto...the answer you seek is buried in Windows Event Viewer.  I go so far as to clear the application and system logs in event viewer, restart and keep checking it before and after the freeze.  You'll learn as a lot a you investigate the items flagged as Errors and Warnings - focus on the red Error messages first but the Warning can be clues as well.  The messages can be cryptic, but simply cut and paste them into Google and you'll learn a lot  - and many times find the offending program or driver causing all the pain.

Also, try disabling all of the autostart items at Statup.  Get to a command line (run) and type MSCONFIG, go to the startup tab, and uncheck all of the automatic startup items and see if your system stops crashing.  If it does, then re-enable them one at a time until you find the offending bugger.

Another thing you can do is open task manager see what's running.  Win 8 has a lot more info in Task Manager than Win 7 did. You'll want to be careful never to kill an essential OS process, but you might see some things in combo with the Event Viewer that might clue you into turning off an errant, non-essential service (Services under Control Panel>Computer Management) which  could be the culprit. If you don't know what a particular service is or does, leave it be or Google it - don't start killing running services or processes without knowing exactly what its for.

I just had one of these kinds of problems.  Turned out the culprtit was a function in a Roxio CD Creator application that although Win 8 let me install it and didn't flag it as incompatible, was incompatible.  I only discovered that by spotting an error in the Event Log, looked up the errant file it listed and found a few discussion threads that let me associate that file name to that application and when I removed the program the system no longer had the problem.

Of course, before you start doing all of this make a full backup of your system drive and create  a restore point. With Win8, they hid backup under Control Panel > File Recovery >Win 7, but it is still there and having one will save your butt later if need be.  Win 8 automatic startup recovery, well, to be kind - sucks and rarely succeeds without a backup image.

It is a matter of careful diagnosis and a process of (safe) elimination - and patience.

Regards,
Mike

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bananahead
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Re: Windows 8 freezing up
In reply to Michael Firstlight, Apr 26, 2013

As others have said, this is where to look

Control Panel\System and Security\Administrative Tools

Event Viewer

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rio911
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Re: Windows 8 freezing up
In reply to MikeFromMesa, Apr 26, 2013

MikeFromMesa wrote:

I know that a Windows system "freezing" is not exactly headline news, but the symptoms of this problem seems different from those of any other system I have heard about. Basically what happens is this:

First, the system "freezes". Apps go pale, the cursor turns into a rotating circle and it looks as though the system will need to be rebooted. Sometimes I get a notice that Windows itself is not responding (which puzzles me somewhat - if Windows is not responding how does it display the message???).

If I wait for the system to respond, it finally does. After a period varying from about 2 minutes up to 5 or 6 minutes Windows suddenly starts working again as though it never stopped. I never get any indication what the problem was, why the problem occurred or how to prevent it in the future. I have been assuming that somewhere along the line I picked up some malware, but I always use anti-virus software and that software (Norton) can find nothing wrong on my system. I have also scanned my system with Kaspersky and it can find nothing in particular wrong.

In addition there does not seem to be a pattern. That is, there is no single app that I am using that has caused this problem. Sometimes it is LR4, sometimes Open Office, sometimes I am browsing on  the dpReview site. No consistency.

Before I rebuild my system I thought I would post this question to see if anyone has any insight into this particular problem. I have had systems "freeze" on me before but I am not used to having the system respond after 2-6 minutes. Before, when my system "froze", it stayed frozen.

My system is a Dell XPS-15 with Windows 8, up to date with fixes, running a 1 TB drive (in which less than 200 GB is in use), an i7 chip and I am not running any strange software. Most of what I have on the system are photo editing apps and digital photos.

Any ideas? Thanks in advance.

Try the event viewer as others have suggested.  If that fails, I would look into your hardware, especially power supply.  But it could be bad memory stick, graphics card overheating, there are lots of options.

Please report after you've had a look at the event viewer,

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MikeFromMesa
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Event Viewer events
In reply to Michael Firstlight, Apr 26, 2013

Michael Firstlight wrote:

Ditto...the answer you seek is buried in Windows Event Viewer.

First, thanks for all of the responses. I should have thought of the Event Viewer, but I completely forgot about it.

A check told me that the system has been having trouble reading from one particular logical sector and has been retrying, again and again. I am not sure this is the core problem for my system freeze and I will wait until the next one and, after the system "unfreezes", look again.

If this is the problem I still have no idea what app or system file is using that sector and I don't know of any way to find out. That means that either I will have to find a way to lock that sector out of use on my disc or replace this disc with another. In either case I suspect I will have to rebuild. If the sector is bad, then my backups (I backup with system images) may also be corrupt.

But, if this is the problem, then at least I will know what has been bothering me, on and off, for the last 6 months and that will be a relief.

Thanks again and I will post what I found out.

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rio911
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Re: Event Viewer events
In reply to MikeFromMesa, Apr 26, 2013

MikeFromMesa wrote:

Michael Firstlight wrote:

Ditto...the answer you seek is buried in Windows Event Viewer.

First, thanks for all of the responses. I should have thought of the Event Viewer, but I completely forgot about it.

A check told me that the system has been having trouble reading from one particular logical sector and has been retrying, again and again. I am not sure this is the core problem for my system freeze and I will wait until the next one and, after the system "unfreezes", look again.

If this is the problem I still have no idea what app or system file is using that sector and I don't know of any way to find out. That means that either I will have to find a way to lock that sector out of use on my disc or replace this disc with another. In either case I suspect I will have to rebuild. If the sector is bad, then my backups (I backup with system images) may also be corrupt.

But, if this is the problem, then at least I will know what has been bothering me, on and off, for the last 6 months and that will be a relief.

Thanks again and I will post what I found out.

By logical sector do you mean sector from your HDD?  This might be a sign of your hard drive failing or having physical damage.  It could be quite serious.

I'm not sure if you have the same tools under win8, but running an error-check on your HDD should help.

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Bob Collette
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Re: Event Viewer events
In reply to MikeFromMesa, Apr 26, 2013

If it turns out that the problem is an error reading from the hard drive, here's what I would suggest you do.  Before you're ready to shutdown for the night, do a Properties on the C: drive (I'm assuming it's the C: drive), select the Tools tab, and under the Error Checking section, click the "Check now" button.  Check both check boxes and press the "Start" button.  A message will tell you that the scan will start the next time you start Windows.  Restart the computer and Windows will run it's scan.  It's likely to take several hours, depending upon the size of your drive, which is why I suggested that you let it run overnight, as you won't be able to use the computer while it's scanning.  With any luck, the bad sector will either be repaired or marked as bad and the data moved to a "spare" sector.  In either case, it should prevent the error from appearing again (at least for that particular sector).  You might also want to check the SMART attributes and see if it detects a problem with the drive.  If it does, you should backup the drive immediately (you should be doing this on a regular basis anyway) and buy a replacement drive.

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VirtualMirage
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Re: Windows 8 freezing up
In reply to bananahead, Apr 26, 2013

bananahead wrote:

As others have said, this is where to look

Control Panel\System and Security\Administrative Tools

Event Viewer

A quicker way is to move the mouse cursor to the bottom left corner of the screen (a small box that looks like a screenshot of the metro screen should appear), right click, and select Event Viewer from there.  You can also access the Run command, Control Panel, Disk Management, and more from that little quick access spot.

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VirtualMirage
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Re: Event Viewer events
In reply to Bob Collette, Apr 26, 2013

Bob Collette wrote:

If it turns out that the problem is an error reading from the hard drive, here's what I would suggest you do.  Before you're ready to shutdown for the night, do a Properties on the C: drive (I'm assuming it's the C: drive), select the Tools tab, and under the Error Checking section, click the "Check now" button.  Check both check boxes and press the "Start" button.  A message will tell you that the scan will start the next time you start Windows.  Restart the computer and Windows will run it's scan.  It's likely to take several hours, depending upon the size of your drive, which is why I suggested that you let it run overnight, as you won't be able to use the computer while it's scanning.  With any luck, the bad sector will either be repaired or marked as bad and the data moved to a "spare" sector.  In either case, it should prevent the error from appearing again (at least for that particular sector).  You might also want to check the SMART attributes and see if it detects a problem with the drive.  If it does, you should backup the drive immediately (you should be doing this on a regular basis anyway) and buy a replacement drive.

I want to say, and I could be wrong, that Windows 8 now allows you to run the disk Error Checking without needing a reboot.  If errors are found, it will then require a reboot to attempt the repairs.  This is different than the previous versions of Windows where a reboot was required in order to scan the OS hard drive.

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MikeFromMesa
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Re: Event Viewer events
In reply to Bob Collette, Apr 26, 2013

Bob Collette wrote:

Before you're ready to shutdown for the night, do a Properties on the C: drive (I'm assuming it's the C: drive), select the Tools tab, and under the Error Checking section, click the "Check now" button.  Check both check boxes and press the "Start" button.

First, yes the drive is C:\.

This problem has been with me for some time and, some months ago, out of desperation, I did an error check on the system disc thinking that perhaps it was a disc problem. I had not checked the Event Viewer so I did not know about the disc retry, but I had tried everything else I could think of to try.

There were no check boxes for me to check but the scan proceeded and, as I remember, found no disc errors. Yet the Event Viewer is showing me continual retries for one specific logical sector.

I think your advice is spot-on and I am going to do another check for errors on the disc. Windows 8 does allow me to continue working while the scan is going one. But I think, regardless, that I will get a new disc and restore my latest disc image (I use Acronis) to the new disc.

you should backup the drive immediately (you should be doing this on a regular basis anyway) and buy a replacement drive.

I try to backup my system with Acronis making disc images on a regular basis. I have had to rebuild enough systems to know of the work involved.

Thanks for the advice.

UPDATE:

The disc check completed in almost no time at all. It found a bunch of problem, but they were file system problems rather than disc error problems. I expect I will order a new laptop disc (this is a laptop) and do an image restore. Better to be safe than sorry and the cost of laptop discs are now very low.

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Bouldergramp
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Re: Event Viewer events
In reply to MikeFromMesa, Apr 26, 2013

You might consider a SSD replacement drive.  My wife's old Dell Latitude (bought from Dell used as an "off lease" computer) came with an 80 MB hard disk.  I was going to replace it and decided to get the SSD suggested as an update on Crucial's website.  The difference in performance is really noticeable, especially for Photoshop Elements.

I also got their $16 kit to transfer the old drive image to the new drive.  It consists of a software disk and a USB to drive connector cable that makes replacement simple.

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MikeFromMesa
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Re: Event Viewer events
In reply to Bouldergramp, Apr 26, 2013

Bouldergramp wrote:

You might consider a SSD replacement drive.

I would really like to do that but my laptop only has one drive bay and the current ssds are either too small for my use or too expensive for my budget.

My current drive is 1 TB. I don't need anything like that space but 500 GB seems a little small if I expect to be processing a large number of digital raw files so I plan to replace it with something like 750 GB. There are no ssds that large and, if there were, I probably could not afford them.

I am anxiously waiting for the ssds to drop in price to something approaching $200  or $250 for a decent size.

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Jim Cockfield
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larger SSDs, drive caddy for 2nd hard drive
In reply to MikeFromMesa, Apr 26, 2013

MikeFromMesa wrote:

Bouldergramp wrote:

You might consider a SSD replacement drive.

I would really like to do that but my laptop only has one drive bay and the current ssds are either too small for my use or too expensive for my budget.

Yea... larger SSDs are not cheap.  But, Micron just introduced a new 1TB (or rather 960GB) model that has a *very* low cost/GB compared to competing SSD models.   Click on the "Show all compatible Solid State Drives" link from this page and you'll see the Crucial branded drive model (960GB Crucial M500).

http://www.crucial.com/upgrade/Dell-memory/XPS/XPS+15+%28L521X%29-upgrades.html

As for only having support for one drive, you can probably find a caddy that lets you replace your optical drive with another hard drive (as most modern laptops just use a standard SATA connection to their optical drive, so designing a hard drive caddy to replace the optical drive is not very hard).

There are lots of "generic" drive caddies like that on the market now, too. But, you want to get one that others have found to fit OK in a given laptop model (as you'll usually need to remove some screws associated with the optical drive mounting bracket so that it can be removed, and replace it with a caddy that has the right screw hole alignment, etc, with a faceplate that matches up to the size of the optical drive bay on it).  Most are 12.7mm. But, again, I'd do some digging through forums to find out what others have found worked OK with your specific laptop model.  Here's an example, a generic 2nd drive caddy that's designed to replace a SATA optical drive:

12.7mm Second Drive Caddy

Note... I have never used that vendor (I just found the listing for one with a quick search on Ebay).  So, do your own research before buying.

Then, just buy a portable DVD drive for when you need to use one for installing software, burning DVDs, etc.)    The portable DVD drives are very inexpensive anymore (around $30 from vendors like newegg.com).  Here's an example:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827135256

IOW, get a drive caddy to replace your optical drive so you can install a hard drive in it's place.  Then, use an affordable SSD for the OS and Programs (e.g., a 128GB or 256GB drive), while using a physical hard drive for your data; going with an external optical drive.

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Jim Cockfield
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Zero fill it, restore from your backup
In reply to MikeFromMesa, Apr 26, 2013

MikeFromMesa wrote:

Michael Firstlight wrote:

Ditto...the answer you seek is buried in Windows Event Viewer.

First, thanks for all of the responses. I should have thought of the Event Viewer, but I completely forgot about it.

A check told me that the system has been having trouble reading from one particular logical sector and has been retrying, again and again. I am not sure this is the core problem for my system freeze and I will wait until the next one and, after the system "unfreezes", look again.

If this is the problem I still have no idea what app or system file is using that sector and I don't know of any way to find out. That means that either I will have to find a way to lock that sector out of use on my disc or replace this disc with another. In either case I suspect I will have to rebuild. If the sector is bad, then my backups (I backup with system images) may also be corrupt.

I'd "zero fill" the drive.  The drive manufacturers make software that can do that for you.  It's probably either a WD or Seagate drive, and both of them offer utilities that can do that for you.

Basically, that makes sure that all sectors are written to; meaning that the drive firmware will automatically mark those sectors as bad at the firmware level in EEPROM (versus just marking those sectors as bad at the file system level like you'd get running disk utilities like chkdsk) when it detects errors trying to write to a problem sector.

Sometimes, scan utilities that check for read errors only will miss borderline sectors (and even if they identify read errors, they're still only marking them as bad in the file system, versus in the drive's EEPROM).

So, zero filling the drive is a much better way to go to insure drive reliability going forward, and will give you a much better idea of the drive's condition so you can make a more informed decision about whether or not the drive should be replaced).

From what I gather from your other posts in this thread on the subject, you already have a good disk image backup that you could use after using a destructive process like zero filling one.  So, I'd suggest taking that approach (zero fill it using the disk manufacturer's software and run their diagnostics after doing that).Here's a post I made on the subject recently, that includes links to the drive manufacturers' software for that purpose:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51002854

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MikeFromMesa
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Re: Zero fill it, restore from your backup
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Apr 26, 2013

Jim Cockfield wrote:

I'd "zero fill" the drive.  The drive manufacturers make software that can do that for you.  It's probably either a WD or Seagate drive, and both of them offer utilities that can do that for you.

Basically, that makes sure that all sectors are written to; meaning that the drive firmware will automatically mark those sectors as bad at the firmware level in EEPROM (versus just marking those sectors as bad at the file system level like you'd get running disk utilities like chkdsk) when it detects errors trying to write to a problem sector.

Sometimes, scan utilities that check for read errors only will miss borderline sectors (and even if they identify read errors, they're still only marking them as bad in the file system, versus in the drive's EEPROM).

So, zero filling the drive is a much better way to go to insure drive reliability going forward, and will give you a much better idea of the drive's condition so you can make a more informed decision about whether or not the drive should be replaced).

From what I gather from your other posts in this thread on the subject, you already have a good disk image backup that you could use after using a destructive process like zero filling one.  So, I'd suggest taking that approach (zero fill it using the disk manufacturer's software and run their diagnostics after doing that).Here's a post I made on the subject recently, that includes links to the drive manufacturers' software for that purpose:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51002854

I followed your link and read through your post. My drive appears to be a WD drive and I have downloaded the appropriate Lifeguard Diagnostic, but it does not appear to be an iso image for a bootable CD/DVD. Instead it is only a Windows based app and I don't see how I can use it on the Windows disc without removing it, replacing it with a different system disc, booting, attaching the original drive as a usb drive and then zero-filling it.

I agree that zero-filling the disc is probably the best way to proceed, but this app does not appear to give me that option without taking my system apart (to replace the disc. In my system it is not a simple matter to swap out the drive) and replacing the disc.

Unless, of course, I am missing something. At least that has the feel of familiarity ...

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MikeFromMesa
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Re: larger SSDs, drive caddy for 2nd hard drive
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Apr 26, 2013

Jim Cockfield wrote:

MikeFromMesa wrote:

Bouldergramp wrote:

You might consider a SSD replacement drive.

I would really like to do that but my laptop only has one drive bay and the current ssds are either too small for my use or too expensive for my budget.

Yea... larger SSDs are not cheap.  But, Micron just introduced a new 1TB (or rather 960GB) model that has a *very* low cost/GB compared to competing SSD models.   Click on the "Show all compatible Solid State Drives" link from this page and you'll see the Crucial branded drive model (960GB Crucial M500).

http://www.crucial.com/upgrade/Dell-memory/XPS/XPS+15+%28L521X%29-upgrades.html

$600 for a 1TB ssd. The last time I looked the largest I could find was something like 500GB.

As for only having support for one drive, you can probably find a caddy that lets you replace your optical drive with another hard drive (as most modern laptops just use a standard SATA connection to their optical drive, so designing a hard drive caddy to replace the optical drive is not very hard).

There are lots of "generic" drive caddies like that on the market now, too. But, you want to get one that others have found to fit OK in a given laptop model (as you'll usually need to remove some screws associated with the optical drive mounting bracket so that it can be removed, and replace it with a caddy that has the right screw hole alignment, etc, with a faceplate that matches up to the size of the optical drive bay on it).  Most are 12.7mm. But, again, I'd do some digging through forums to find out what others have found worked OK with your specific laptop model.  Here's an example, a generic 2nd drive caddy that's designed to replace a SATA optical drive:

12.7mm Second Drive Caddy

I did not know these even existed. It is an interesting option although my XPS-15 has a Blu-ray burner. My original idea was to create video/movie slide shows from my DSLR and burn them to Blu-ray. Unfortunately none of the software packages I found was able to create Blu-ray slide shows any better than the AVCHD DVD slide shows and the cost of the burner turned out to be a waste.

After checking I found that Amazon also has a drive caddy and I suppose I would feel somewhat more comfortable buying from them than from some completely unknown vendor.

This is definitely something to think about. I could easily get by with a 240GB (or smaller) ssd if I had a second hard drive.

Thanks for the information.

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Jim Cockfield
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Re: Zero fill it, restore from your backup
In reply to MikeFromMesa, Apr 26, 2013

Darn.... I thought that WD offered a bootable .iso image

I usually just use dd from linux to zero fill a drive (as that's just a one line command).  Basically, the syntax would be as shown in the first example on this page:

http://how-to.wikia.com/wiki/How_to_wipe_a_hard_drive_clean_in_Linux

But, you'd need to make sure you understand how the drive shows up (/dev/sda is usually the first drive in a system, but exceptions occur).  So, you'd want to use commands like this to insure you have the right drive.

su

fdisk -l

Or, if using an Ubuntu based distro, use sudo instead, like this:

sudo fisk -l

But, if you're not comfortable with linux naming conventions and command line utilities, it looks like the Ultimate Boot CD has the DOS version of WD Lifeguard included on it.  So, that would probably be easier for you.

If you go to their downloads page, just click on the icon for the .iso on the left side of a given mirror and you'll get the direct link to the .iso download for it.

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/download.html

For example, here's a direct link to the .iso:

http://mirror.komsys.org/pub/ubcd/ubcd522.iso

Personally, I use isorecorder to burn an image to CD.  Basically, it adds a new option to Windows Explorer, so that when you "right click" on a downloaded .iso file, you can use the menu choice to "Copy Image to CD/DVD" to burn the .iso to CD so that it's bootable.  Get isorecorder here:

http://alexfeinman.com/isorecorder.htm

Or, if you have a USB Flash drive, just format it as FAT32 and boot from it instead, as the Ultimate Boot CD is supported by a number of products, including the Universal USB Installer from pendrivelinux.com:

http://www.pendrivelinux.com/install-and-boot-ultimate-boot-cd-ubcd-from-a-usb-device/

After you boot into a CD or USB Flash drive with the Ultimate Boot CD on it, you should find the DOS version of the WD Lifeguard Diagnostics utility under the HDD>Diagnosis Menu choice:

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/index.html

Basically, the idea is that if you "zero fill" a drive, the drive firmware will detect any errors when writing to it, and modern drives will automatically mark those sectors as bad and remap them to spare sectors in EEPROM.  That way, the Operating System never sees them.

That's a better way to approach it versus trying to let the OS read from all sectors and only mark ones with read errors as bad at the File System level.   IOW, the firmware with modern drives is "smart" enough to recognize problems when you write to a problem sector (as zero filling a drive would do), and map that sector to spares in EEPROM (instead of letting the OS do it at a file system level only).

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MikeFromMesa
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Re: Zero fill it, restore from your backup
In reply to Jim Cockfield, Apr 26, 2013

Jim Cockfield wrote:

Darn.... I thought that WD offered a bootable .iso image

I usually just use dd from linux to zero fill a drive (as that's just a one line command).  Basically, the syntax would be as shown in the first example on this page:

http://how-to.wikia.com/wiki/How_to_wipe_a_hard_drive_clean_in_Linux

But, you'd need to make sure you understand how the drive shows up (/dev/sda is usually the first drive in a system, but exceptions occur).  So, you'd want to use commands like this to insure you have the right drive.

su

fdisk -l

Or, if using an Ubuntu based distro, use sudo instead, like this:

sudo fisk -l

But, if you're not comfortable with linux naming conventions and command line utilities, it looks like the Ultimate Boot CD has the DOS version of WD Lifeguard included on it.  So, that would probably be easier for you.

If you go to their downloads page, just click on the icon for the .iso on the left side of a given mirror and you'll get the direct link to the .iso download for it.

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/download.html

For example, here's a direct link to the .iso:

http://mirror.komsys.org/pub/ubcd/ubcd522.iso

Thanks for the link. I did not have one since I have not used Unix/Linux/Ubantu in years and years and years ...

Quite some time ago my job was changed from designing and writing Unix software to designing and writing Windows software so I really have never felt any need to go back to Unix/Linux/Ubantu.

Personally, I use isorecorder to burn an image to CD.  Basically, it adds a new option to Windows Explorer, so that when you "right click" on a downloaded .iso file, you can use the menu choice to "Copy Image to CD/DVD" to burn the .iso to CD so that it's bootable.  Get isorecorder here:

http://alexfeinman.com/isorecorder.htm

Or, if you have a USB Flash drive, just format it as FAT32 and boot from it instead, as the Ultimate Boot CD is supported by a number of products, including the Universal USB Installer from pendrivelinux.com:

http://www.pendrivelinux.com/install-and-boot-ultimate-boot-cd-ubcd-from-a-usb-device/

After you boot into a CD or USB Flash drive with the Ultimate Boot CD on it, you should find the DOS version of the WD Lifeguard Diagnostics utility under the HDD>Diagnosis Menu choice:

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/index.html

Basically, the idea is that if you "zero fill" a drive, the drive firmware will detect any errors when writing to it, and modern drives will automatically mark those sectors as bad and remap them to spare sectors in EEPROM.  That way, the Operating System never sees them.

That's a better way to approach it versus trying to let the OS read from all sectors and only mark ones with read errors as bad at the File System level.   IOW, the firmware with modern drives is "smart" enough to recognize problems when you write to a problem sector (as zero filling a drive would do), and map that sector to spares in EEPROM (instead of letting the OS do it at a file system level only).

Sounds like a plan. Thanks for the information.

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